In Brief

Coronavirus: lack of vitamin D increases danger of Covid-19 infection, study says

Low levels of vitamin increase odds of hospitalisation in virus patients

A significant majority of patients hospitalised by Covid-19 have low levels of vitamin D, a new study has revealed.

After testing 216 coronavirus patients at the Marques de Valdecilla University Hospital in Spain, researchers found that 82% had a vitamin D deficiency, with men more likely to have low levels than women.

Patients with low rates of the vitamin also showed “increased serum levels of inflammatory markers such as ferritin and D-dimer when they had low levels of vitamin D”, Sky News says. “Levels of inflammatory markers rise in the body when it is fighting off an infection,” the broadcaster adds.

Dr Jose Hernandez, one of the lead researchers, said medics should “identify and treat vitamin D deficiency”, especially in high-risk individuals such as the elderly and nursing home residents, who are the “main target population for Covid-19”.

“Vitamin D treatment should be recommended in Covid-19 patients with low levels of vitamin D circulating in the blood since this approach might have beneficial effects in both the musculoskeletal and the immune system,” he added.

Last month, a separate study by Boston University found sufficient levels of vitamin D make people less likely to experience complications and die from coronavirus, while researchers have also found that it could reduce rates of infection

Symptoms of low vitamin D levels include tiredness, weakness, muscle and bone pain. As well as sunlight and supplements, other sources of vitamin D include oily fish, meat and eggs, as well as fortified breakfast cereals, soya milk and vegetable margarines. 

In April, Public Health England recommended taking daily vitamin D supplements through the spring and summer due to combat lockdown restrictions.

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